This is the fifth report from the Digital Democracy Project, a partnership between the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. Contrary to popular belief, evidence suggests that Canadians do not live in media-driven partisan echo chambers, and their trust in mainstream media remains quite high. And while there is some evidence of political polarization, that appears to be driven largely by the parties themselves and not by the media. This report explores Canadian's opinions on the importance of fact-checking news stories and discusses how information concerning the Justin Trudeau’s blackface controversy was shared online.
Key Findings: Fact-checking
Canadians are in broad agreement that fact-checking is valuable in politics. This echoes a key finding from Research Memo 1, which found high levels of trust in traditional media to deliver objective and accurate information about the election.
Our finding from Research Memo 2, that fact-checking works in correcting misinformed voters, was further confirmed in this report. However, this report found that journalists are no more convincing than politicians or unaffiliated Twitter users when it comes to fact-checks.
Fact-checks may help people to feel more confident in their ability to understand and participate in politics, but this is more likely to be the case for those who already understand the issues. We also find no evidence that fact-checking politicians reduces trust in politicians as a source of political information.
Key Findings: Trudeau and Blackface
The general public’s discussion of the blackface story on social media dropped dramatically after three days. Tweets on the topic from journalists and election candidates had a similar decline.
Discussion on blackface-related hashtags is dominated by Conservative partisans; features links to generally informative pieces of journalism about the controversy; and lacks evidence of disproportionate inauthentic activity.